Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Special Care for Special Needs

Brand new, overwhelmed mom to a scrawny, sweet baby boy, I received a card from a family member. 

On the front was a drawing of Jesus carrying a lamb and inside, this:

"He will feed His flock like a shepherd;  He will gather the lambs in His arms, He will carry them close to His heart and will gently lead those that have their young."  Isaiah 40:11.

Those familiar, treasured words became my theme, my mantra.  “He will gently lead those that have their young...gently lead...gently...lead...”

Oh how I needed God’s gentle leading to make it through those first bewildering days, weeks and months with my newborn.   And when my second baby boy burst onto the scene, it was a constant reminder of God’s love for me and my babies. 

6 years down the road of mothering...

It was August in the Midwest.  Hot and humid. I was pounding the pavement with my third in the stroller; a precious, perfect-for-us little girl.  My husband and I had just adopted this 13-month-old treasure from China. 

Three months after bringing her home she had lip repair surgery for her cleft lip.  The recovery was awful; much more traumatic than the surgeon had led us to believe.  For the first week after surgery she couldn’t sleep well anywhere except in the stroller. 

So I walked her. 

And walked her. 

And walked and walked and walked her.

Pushing my bloodied, swollen, stitched-up baby through the neighborhood, I was miserable and exhausted and hashing things out with God.

Had we made the right decision? 
Would her beautiful face be forever mangled and lopsided? 
Would any of us ever sleep through the night again?

And as I walked I listened to sermons.

And right there...rounding the corner by the Williams house...up the hill from the park...sweet baby girl had finally fallen into a sweaty, fitful sleep...

All of a sudden the preacher in my earbuds was preaching to ME! 

“The Bible says, in Isaiah 40, verse 11, that God gives SPECIAL CARE for SPECIAL NEEDS.”

The stroller crashed into a curb and almost tipped!   

The fact that the preacher used the adoption lingo of “special needs” was no accident, no mere coincidence.  God had that word for ME! 

Encouragement flooded my heart.  Special care for special needs! 

18 months later...

My husband and I were enduring one of the most hopeless nights of our lives, in a cramped, dark hotel room in Guangzhou, China. 

It was the evening of “Gotcha” Day.

We had just received another little treasure girl.  She was six years old. 

Her paperwork said that her special need was a limb difference in her arm.  Within moments of getting her it was clear that the paperwork had been incomplete.

Her limb difference was the least of her special needs. 

As the first few hours with her turned into the first few days, we were shell-shocked, overwhelmed, confused, angry, and sad. 

She was nothing like what we had expected or planned for or hoped for or prayed for. 

We felt absolutely devastated and alone. 

And right there...crumpled at the corner of fear and anger...tumbling down the hill of despair...during those sleepless, tear-filled nights...

All of a sudden God preached to me.

“I give special care for special needs.”

“I carry this child close to my heart and I gently lead you with your young.”

And now...

It’s been almost two years since those dark days in China. 

Adopting an older, special needs daughter has changed my life.

The biggest changes aren’t in the make-up of my family or the various doctors appointments, therapies, IEP meetings and accommodations that we’ve had to make for our newest child. 

The biggest change is that God has given our daughter special care for her special needs through giving her a family.  And he’s given ME special care for my spiritual, physical and emotional special needs every day through giving me Jesus.

The card I received those many years ago during my first shaky steps as a new mother...

My husband’s grandma sent it to me.

We named our newest daughter after her. 

Their name means “God will increase”. 

And for her middle name, we chose “Grace”.

God knew when we named her how much we would need the reminder...

Every time we call her name...

God will give special care for her special needs,

and to all of us

an increase of His grace.

Julie Melilli lives in Wheaton, IL, with her husband and four children. 
Most days she loves being a “stay at home” mom.  On the occasional
day that things seem like more than she can bear, she has an amazing
support group of friends who get her through by reminding
her of her newest life mantra “Just give me Jesus!”.  She enjoys
cooking, decorating, reading, doing projects and long dinners out.  She and
her husband are currently in the process of adopting again.

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